Former Democratic Party staff are coming together to help cultivate more comprehensive integration of political campaign strategy, TV media buying, and digital. As Democrats gear up to battle in 2012, newly-launched McKenna Pihlaja, a firm focused on strategic media consulting, is partnering with Strategic Productions, the creative digital media firm behind an anti-Sarah Palin video campaign from Emily's List featuring "mama grizzlies."
Normally political campaigns operate in television, direct mail, and digital silos, but Amy Rubin, founder of Strategic Productions, aims to change that through the partnership. In the typical setup, said Rubin, "Everyone is vying for control of their message.... We really believe that's not the way it's going to be anymore."
As former new media communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Rubin worked with Martha McKenna, who served as the organization's political director. McKenna Pihlaja itself is newly-formed. McKenna's partner Jen Pihlaja previously worked as political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DSCC’s House campaign counterpart.
"We're taking them as a TV firm and us as a digital firm...and thinking about how the creative can cross the wall between these two mediums," said Rubin.
Strategic Productions specializes in digital video consulting, production, distribution, and measurement. Last year the firm created the "Sarah Doesn't Speak for Me" video for Emily's List, a group dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates. The video, which has been viewed over 258,000 times, features women wearing bear-like fur ears and snouts, responding to a Sarah Palin video in which she likened women tea partiers to grizzly bear mothers.
"Sure, yeah, I attack when my cubs are threatened," says a mama grizzly in the Emily's List video, published in August 2010. "Want to know what threatens me? My daughter not having the right to choose." The video, which also got television coverage, helped the organization garner 100,000 new members, according to Rubin.
While McKenna stressed the continued importance of TV ads to political campaigns, she told ClickZ News, "The next generation of political communication will be even more powerful because it will connect the voter and the candidate more directly using online political content and interactive tools. The integration of TV and online content also allows us to target and measure our audience more directly, focusing on consumer and voter behaviors across multiple platforms."
While Rubin calls creative video content her company's "sweet spot," the firm can also handle display and search advertising and other digital campaign elements. Other Strategic Productions clients include the League of Conservation Voters and Oxfam America. The agency works with around 70 staffers, some of whom are contractors. Contractors from that network will now work with McKenna Pihlaja on combined jobs.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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